Three must-have capabilities for your attribution solution.

Three must-have capabilities for your attribution solution

Experienced marketing technologists know that martech isn’t as simple as finding an “easy button” you can plug in and automatically get more leads and higher conversion. They know if you feed your attribution technology garbage, you’ll get garbage out the other end. And they know data quality is the foundation for it all, with attribution a great example of why.

But good quality data is just the beginning if you want successful and scalable attribution. Let’s look at three issues we often see people tripping over with their attribution technology.

Flexibility to scale

Attribution is conceptually pretty simple. It’s a bit of data tracing, counting, adding, and dividing. What makes attribution difficult is not the fancy models, but how easily you can make it work with your systems, data, and processes.

Here are the technology constraints we often see with attribution solutions:

It’s Salesforce or bust

Every attribution solution works with Salesforce data. A few work with Marketo, but beyond that you’re looking at writing custom Python code.

New martech solutions and vendors are still rapidly emerging, so you need the ability to ingest engagement data from a broad range of sources, including:

  • CRM, beyond Salesforce
  • Marketing automation, beyond Marketo
  • Data warehouses and databases
  • Sales engagement tools like Salesloft and
  • Sales insight tools like Gong and
  • Revenue insight tools like and Clari
  • Intent data like G2 and Bombora
  • Your own product’s free trial and freemium activity
  • Data from your channel partner

Setting up Salesforce incorrectly

Even if most of your engagement data is in Salesforce, most of the attribution solutions assume your instance is set up generically and you’re using objects like Lead, Contact, Account, and Campaign Memberships in “standard” ways.

But it’s never that simple, especially if your Salesforce instance is more than five years old and you’re an enterprise size company. That’s why many will resort to doing things that make your Salesforce even more messy just so it can work within such rigid technology constraints.

One large technology company we worked with wanted to incorporate sales meetings into their attribution model, but its tool only worked with the Campaign Membership object. So it bulk-created a campaign for every day of the year and wrote code to match all the sales meeting data into these daily campaigns. When this project went live, team members added over a thousand (365 days x 3 years) new daily campaigns to their instance.

Custom object? What custom object?

Custom objects are a fact of life unless your Salesforce instance is less than three months old. They capture critical data that’s specific to your company’s go-to-market motion. Most attribution technology tools have limited, if any, ability to deal with custom objects.

One company used a custom object to capture data on their channel sales and partner influence data. Unfortunately, the attribution tool they deployed years ago didn’t support custom objects, requiring additional manual work and ultimately delivering the combined data into a data warehouse while using Tableau for reporting.

They recently replaced the manual work with an integrated RevOps automation platform. Its next step: using that platform to replace the entire attribution solution.

Flexibility to model

If there’s any martech topic that evokes religion-like fervor, it’s the attribution model. People will debate until the cows come home which attribution model is better and more accurate. Every model’s flawed, yet every model can provide insight.

You need to run multiple attribution models because each model answers a different question. Which campaign is best at:

  • Sourcing new leads?
  • Nurturing leads?
  • Growing upsell and cross-sell business?
  • Closing new business?
  • Turning one-way outreach into two-way conversations?

From there you can determine:

  • What pattern of touches creates the largest deals?
  • What’s the buyer’s journey for a specific type of market segment?
  • Which type of deal is marketing vs. sales best at sourcing?

No single attribution model can answer more than one or two questions, so you’ll need to run different models to answer different questions for different stakeholders. Your attribution solution should enable you to run as many models in parallel as you need, and customize the models to fit your exact business logic.

Flexibility to tell different stories

Attribution shouldn’t be a tool for marketing to justify its existence and show management how many opportunities they’ve created for sales, or worse—used as a tool to argue with sales about who should get the credit for business. Attribution helps answer questions about what works and what doesn’t for different stakeholders. For example:

Marketing wants to know which content syndication vendor generates the highest quality leads.
Sales wants to know which in-person event format generates the highest engagement.
Demand Gen wants to know what nurturing pattern generates the shortest buying cycle.
The CRO wants to know how senior buyer persona’s engagement in deals affect the size of the deal.

The CMO wants to know the impacts of key brand building campaigns.

To effectively use attribution analysis to answer all these different questions means you need the ability not just to run different models, but to present the data in the most straightforward way to each stakeholder.

Most companies use additional custom analytics and reports, requiring the use of a data warehouse and data visualization tools. It would be ideal for the attribution tool to have the flexibility to generate targeted analysis for specific stakeholders without these additional steps.

One way to accomplish that is with a RevOps automation platform that enables the attribution project team to create customer applications that deliver data and visualization for teams in different departments and regions.

Make sure your attribution solution can grow with you

Attribution offers powerful analysis when done correctly. You need attribution technology that accommodates your business needs, keeps up with constant changes, and services the needs of a large number of stakeholders. That’s why you should pick a platform that not only meets your needs today, but can scale with your company as your use of attribution analysis becomes more mature and widespread within your organization.

Based on an article originally published on Marketing Profs on February 2, 2022.


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